SEA Games: Shooter Jasmine Ser takes on coach's role, 'more worried' for her athletes

Coaching seven young shooters has refreshed Jasmine Ser as it has given her a fresh perspective of being an athlete. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

HANOI - Jasmine Ser, one of Singapore's most bemedalled shooters, is usually coolness personified at competitions. But as she sat among the red-shirted Singapore shooting contingent at the Hanoi national sports training centre at the SEA Games this week, the seasoned athlete was on edge.

The 31-year-old was casting a watchful eye as one of her athletes - Games debutant Lionel Wong - bagged a silver medal in the men's 10m air rifle with a score of 246.5 points on Tuesday (May 17).

Ser, a four-time SEA Games gold medallist, is competing in her seventh Games, but it's a new experience for the two-time Sportswoman of the Year (2011 and 2015) as she has doubled up as the national youth team coach (rifle).

She is also coach to Gai Tianrui who took home a silver medal in the 10m air rifle mixed team event alongside Fernel Tan. On Saturday (May 21), he finished fifth out of eight in the men's individual 50m rifle three positions final. Singapore's other participant Marat Veloso finished last.

Ser, who started coaching in January 2021, said: "This is the first Games I am competing and coaching in so I have been able to identify what has worked and what has not. And one of the things I have noted is that I need to separate my hats.

"It's not easy because I find myself being more worried for my athletes than I am about my own performance. I feel more responsible for them and their performances. I need to find back the balance for myself as an athlete, to focus on my game as well. Perhaps then I will be able to perform (better) in competition."

Coaching seven young shooters has refreshed Ser as it has given her a fresh perspective of being an athlete.

She added: "They come from a younger, newer generation. They hold different perspective of life and it kind of allows me to reflect. What I like about coaching beyond just teaching and correcting technique is that I am able to share with them what I have been through and my life experiences.

"I make it clear to them that life is not just about the pursuit of medals and being number one but to live a fulfilling life with good morals."

At these Games, Ser competed in the women's individual 50m rifle three positions - which is also her pet event. In this event, competitors are required to shoot while first prone, then kneeling and finally standing.

During the qualification round, Ser finished 10th out of 17 and did not reach the final eight. Her last Games medal came in 2017. She did not compete at the 2019 Games in the Philippines.

She said: "I have been facing some problems with keeping my right shoulder consistent , so for example for kneeling position this time I couldn't keep it similar throughout the 40 shots. I will need to work on it but at least I identified it. Definitely more practice can help. I didn't get to practise much here but it's not an excuse. I have to improve."

Ser, who has three Commonwealth Games gold medals and an Asian Games team silver medal, now spends at least 12 hours a day at the training range as a result of double hatting.

She hold sessions with her seven shooters in the evening. In the day, she works on her own game.

But despite the busy schedule, she has no plans to hang up her rifle any time soon and is looking forward to future Games.

She said: "Shooting is a sport that we can do for a long time but definitely there will be a day whereby you need to call it quits but I don't think that day is so soon. Perhaps it will be clearer in the next two years. When it gets too overwhelming for me, that is when I will need to stop."

A major reason for staying on is the passion and desire to compete at the elite level.

She has represented the country in two Olympic Games: London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016, and hopes to qualify for Paris 2024.

Said Ser: "There is unfinished business. I have a lot of drive. And even if it gets tiring time to time, I don't want to question my decision. I've embarked on this new road and let's see where it goes."

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